A pale imitation of the 2018 thriller
Another week rolls round and another Hollywood remake hits the big screen. This week it’s time for The Guilty, a 2018 Danish thriller that’s been updated and slapped with a new lick of paint. This is ultimately a film designed to be watched by those who haven’t seen the original, and in that respect there will definitely be a market for this.
For those unaware, The Guilty’s story centers on a demoted police officer called Joe Baylor. He’s assigned to work a 911 dispatch desk and is very clearly stressed, struggling to think clearly with a massive court case coming up. Exposition around this is cleverly drip-fed across the run-time, becoming clearer as the film reaches its climax – but this is not the focal point of the movie.
Instead, the main crux of the drama comes from Joe receiving an emergency call from a woman called Emily. She’s frightened, kidnapped by her partner Henry with their two children, Abby and Oliver, still at home. What follows from here is an intense rollercoaster ride of emotion that’ll keep you gripped until the very end.
The narrative here basically stays true to the original, so if you’ve seen the 2018 version there’s absolutely no surprises here. In fact, the artistic additions to the screenplay actually feel more annoying than anything else.
During key moments of the film, blurred overlays crop up featuring flashing sirens, cars on the freeway and more. It’s clear that Director Antoine Fuqua is itching to get out the one-set shindig the film is constrained by, but this feels like an odd aesthetic choice.
Thankfully, Jake Gyllenhaal absolutely kills it in his role as Joe Baylor. The man is an incredibly talented actor and here he showcases why. For his performance alone this movie is compelling, and he manages to bring a lot of complexity to his role across the 90 minute run-time.
The changed location of Los Angeles, in the wake of massive wildfires burning across the city, is the one big change to the original and it works pretty well to add some urgency to the dispatch center. Beyond that – and Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance – there really isn’t much else here worth getting excited about. In fact, even the suspenseful moments and twists are handled better in the 2018 version.
If you haven’t watched that though, do yourself a favour and stick it on instead. This film is simply another example of how far ahead foreign cinema is compared to Hollywood – especially in terms of quality and originality.
The Guilty is no exception and if there’s anything this film’s guilty of, it’s sticking to the shadows of its far superior Danish brother.
Read More: The Guilty (2021) Ending Explained